Waves Slide Past Navs in Wednesday Pitching Duel, 2-1

06/08/2022 7:29 PM

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- A walk-off wild pitch lifted the Ocean State Waves to a 2-1 win over the North Shore Navigators in Wednesday night’s first-ever meeting between the two New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) teams at Old Mountain Field.

North Shore fell to 0-2 on the young season despite a stellar starting pitching performance by Jake Gigliotti (Northeastern). The right-hander, who also pitched for the Navs in 2019 and was a league rival with the Upper Valley Nighthawks last summer, struck out 11 Waves batters and allowed just two walks across six no-hit innings in his first start and appearance of 2022.

Right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) led off the game with an infield single and scored North Shore’s lone run. Two batters after McElroy walked to begin the ninth inning, shortstop Max Viera (Northeastern) ripped a run-scoring double into the right-field corner to briefly tie the score before the walk-off result.

Of the seven hits between the teams, only three belonged to North Shore.

The Navs wasted little time getting action on the bases as McElroy beat out a base hit over the mound in the first at-bat of the game. From there, Ocean State southpaw Joe Cinnella (Seton Hall) retired the next three batters in order to end the inning, two by way of the strikeout.

As it turned out, the visitors were held without another hit for the next six complete innings -- until second baseman Reece Rappoli’s (Brown) leadoff knock in the eighth -- as Cinnella and Gigliotti engaged in an old-fashioned pitching duel. 

The Waves starter struck out nine and allowed just the one hit across five full frames.

Gigliotti was even more impressive, putting up three consecutive 1-2-3 innings to start the game and facing the minimum through the first five frames. Gigliotti hit Ocean State center fielder Khyree Miller (Winthrop) with a pitch to open the fourth, but Alex Duffey (Elon) caught him stealing second base to help end the inning in three batters.

Ocean State broke a combined no-hit bid and scored first in one swoop as third baseman Justin Szestowicki (North Carolina) snuck a single through the right side. Left fielder Peter Ciuffreda (Lafayette) crossed the plate following a one-out walk.

Catcher Matt Malone’s (Minot State) single moved Szestowicki across to third, but Navs reliever Nate Espelin (Dayton) induced an inning-ending ground ball to keep the visitors’ deficit at just a single run.

North Shore put baserunners on in the sixth through eighth innings before finally marking the scoreboard in the top of the ninth. McElroy got the frame going with a walk and moved to second on third baseman Brady O’Brien’s (Colby) sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher. 

Viera’s one-out hit knotted the score temporarily, but the hosts were able to walk off in the final regulation frame. Ocean State first baseman Brodey Heaton (Belmont) ripped a ground-rule double to center before pinch runner Kyle Maves (Quinnipiac) stole third and scored the winning run on a one-out wild pitch.

Espelin and Packy Bradley-Cooney (CCBC Essex) were the North Shore pitchers who worked in relief, with the latter taking the loss. Despite blowing a save, Ryan Gleason (Charleston Southern) was credited with the win for Ocean State. 

With two road games now complete, North Shore is scheduled to welcome the Newport Gulls to Fraser Field for their first home game of the season at 6:35 p.m. Thursday.